No lights or power but no tripped breakers????

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  #1  
Old 10-20-08, 08:59 AM
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No lights or power but no tripped breakers????

Have a small office in my house with a ceiling fan, ceiling light and 4 electrical outlets. Last week everything working fine! Wife turned on ceiling fan said she heard a "pop", now fan, light and 3 outlets not working. Went to breaker box, found what I thought to be the right breaker..not tripped...turned it off and checked the other outlet, it was off. Went back to breaker box moved breaker to on and checked room again. The one outlet was back on, no fan, light or other outlets. Went back to breaker box, turned everyone off and back on, even ones I knew wouldn't be connected i.e. range, dishwasher etc. still no electric to fan, light and outlets. What the hell is going on? Put circuit tester in switch gang box...no power to switch!!!

Help please:
 
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  #2  
Old 10-20-08, 09:39 AM
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Most likely you have an open neutral, or possibly a tripped GFCI. To help isolate which and therefore narrow down your search, I suggest you spend $8 at your home center on an outlet tester, a device that plugs in and has three lights on it. Plug it into one of the dead receptacles and tell us what it says.
 
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Old 10-20-08, 10:54 AM
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If the office is in the basement then probably a GFCI receptacle behind a cabinet or outside or in the garage behind some boxes that have been there for ever..

Testing at a switch isn't reliable. It may be a switch loop. Test between hot and ground and hot and neutral at a receptacle.
 
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Old 10-20-08, 05:54 PM
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Also check outside GFI's around house. I can't tell you how many trouble calls I've been on where it was a GFI on the outside of the house that fed the garage or bathrooms or all of the above.
 
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Old 10-20-08, 07:09 PM
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No lights or power but no tripped breakers????

My suggestion is to look at ALL GFIs.

I had a similar situation when lightning hit the ground nearby and fed back through the cable system. Fortunately, my computer, printers and scanners protected and were not damaged. My TV smelled funny(burnt), but everything else was OK. I checked the breakers and none were tripped.

While wandering around the house, I spotted GFI in the upstairs kitchen that was tripped. I reset it and everything was OK, but I still had to get a new TV.

It turned out the DIY idiot had tapped on to the 20 amp kitchen circuit (with the wrong size wire) when he finished the downstairs basement office out.

GFIs can be very sensitive for good reasons, so take a good look and use a voltage determinator and an outlet plug-in circuit analyzer.

You never know what you may find.

Dick
 
  #6  
Old 10-20-08, 08:14 PM
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Sometimes electrical connections inside electrical boxes are not good connections (such as switch, outlet, light, and junction boxes).

Sometimes wires are just held together and a wire nut loosely placed on the wires.

Sometimes wires are pushed into the back of outlets and these are not good connections.

Sometimes wires are placed on screw terminals, but not wrapped fully around the screw.

Sometimes screws are not tightened enough.

So what may have happened and the "pop" your wife heard was a poor connection somewhere overheating and breaking. Might want to ask her where it sounded like it came from.

Then turn off power and start checking outlets, switches, and ceiling boxes - junction boxes in attic/basement if everything looks ok in room boxes.

I would start at the outlet which is still working, then try outlet(s) next to this outlet.

If you are not comfortable doing this type of work, call an electrician.

It is best to turn off the main power to the whole house when doing this type of work for your safety.

Let us know what you find!

P.S. Wires tend to run from one outlet to the next, and sometimes on up to a light fixture. How the wires were run is anybody's guess. Just that they would go from one outlet to the next.
 
  #7  
Old 10-22-08, 05:44 AM
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Unhappy

Tripped all groundfaults and reset them lights and receptical came on, went down and shut off breaker to room so I could put all the wires back in the switch box, put face plate on, went down threw the breaker on..........same damn thing, one recepticle hot , 3 out, no lights or ceiling fans. Bought a circuit testor, the one hot plug reads all good, the other 3 I get no lights, thinking about replacing groundfaults, I have 3 GFI recepticals and one GFI breaker (for a hot tub) in a different breaker box so assume that's not the problem????
 
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Old 10-22-08, 08:56 AM
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You pulled the outlets out, then applied power, then everything worked?

Then stuffed the wires/outlets back in and everything stopped working?

Again sounds like a loose connection.

These types of connections (in following picture) to outlets can be bad. I don't do this...
http://www.rd.com/images/tfhimport/2...g001_size2.jpg

The top wire in the following picture is a good solid connection. Notice how the wire goes all the way around and under the screw. The wire is bent with needlenose pliers.

The lower wire in the following picture is a bad connection, wire not wrapped around screw. In this case the wire overheated due to the bad connection..
http://www.rd.com/images/tfhimport/2...e004img015.jpg
 
  #9  
Old 10-22-08, 08:59 AM
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Sounds like your GFCI tripped again.

GFCIs can trip if they are very old, or (surprise, surprise) if you have an actual ground fault. An actual ground fault can be caused by accidental or (misguidedly) intentional contact between the neutral wire and a grounding wire, or by excess moisture somewhere where it shouldn't be, or by a faulty device running off the GFCI (e.g., a failing bathroom exhaust fan).
 
  #10  
Old 10-22-08, 09:02 AM
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The following picture shows a good solid "wire nut" connection. The wires have been twisted with pliers before screwing on the wire nut...
http://www.electricmarine.com/web/images/wire%20nut.jpg

Sometimes people just hold up the two wires (no twisting) then screw on the wire nut. This is bad as the wires can come loose when stuffing them back into the electrical box.
 
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Old 10-22-08, 09:29 AM
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Uhhh Ohhhh I see the old "to twist or not to twist" debate coming...lol

No raggin on me, j/k!
 
  #12  
Old 10-22-08, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Uhhh Ohhhh I see the old "to twist or not to twist" debate coming...lol

I'm sorry! But I had to explain what a good connection was. Maybe no one will read it!
 
  #13  
Old 10-23-08, 07:19 AM
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Thanks to all for your help, turns out that 2 weeks ago when I was looking for something in the attic, I apparently kicked or pushed a box against a wire that went into a recessed ceiling light in another room. After redoing all of the outlets as suggested (wires around the screws as opposed to the back stabbing), I still had no power, started tracing the lines with a sound testor and lost the sound at this ceiling light. Opened the junction box, all wires were separate and appeared to be OK, disconnected it anyway and guess what...power restored to the other room. Couple of questions though...why didn't breaker trip? Why only did part of the room go out ...it's all the same circuit? Oh well off to my next project...bought a 842V 2000Mhz 68 amp combothing at a government auction, looking at my breaker box, I have 3 holes still not used, so i can hook this up right????guys you still there???Beer 4U2
 
  #14  
Old 10-23-08, 07:27 AM
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Breakers don't trip for every problem. They trip on overcurrent and shorts only. They don't trip for open circuits or for ground faults or for arc faults. The latter two are why GFCI and AFCI exist--to fill in some gaps in what an ordinary breaker is capable of handling. Breakers also don't protect against the risk of fire caused overheating associated with bad connections, inadequately sized or installed wires, and improperly installed fixtures.

All of this is one reason why we continually stress here the importance of doing things right. If breakers could mitigate every hazard, there would hardly be a need for an electrical code. As I often say, not every thing that works is safe.
 
  #15  
Old 10-23-08, 07:37 AM
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Wow Rick...you found a surplus 842V 2000Mhz 68 amp combothing?
I've been looking for one of those! I want to re-wire the input stator and hook it up to a 32VAC deep cycle marine battery and a $30 DC/DC inverter to power my house during the Hurricanes here in AZ. I just can't trust my old flux capacitor anymore.

lol
 
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